Here’s hoping Brad Treliving reads Twitter. The Calgary Flames scoring struggles have continued. Outside of an offensive explosion against the St. Louis Blues on Monday and franchise record night against the Columbus Blue Jackets two days later, the Flames latest loss against the Blues was another indication of a lack of finishing ability. As time has gone on, Flames fans and hockey reports alike have continued to add names to the list of potential top-six suitors for the Flames come the trade deadline.
It’s becoming far too obvious and clear what this team needs before the playoffs for Treliving to ignore it, right? With a plethora of top-six forward options available on the market, the time is now to finally go all-in and add some scoring depth to this team.
The Win Column has assessed the fit of several players throughout the season already, but another intriguing option for the Flame is that of Claude Giroux. The 34-year-old is in the final year of his eight-year contract, and is stuck on a terrible Flyers team near the bottom of the league. There’s a good chance the Flyers look to move their long time captain as they enter a rebuild. Could the Flames be a fit? Let’s take a deeper look.
A look at Giroux’s career
Giroux is currently 34 years old, having just turned 34 on January 12th. He is the Flyers’ longtime captain, having served in the position for 10 seasons now and was drafted by the Flyers 22nd overall back in 2006.
He is currently in the final year of an eight-year, $66 million contract signed back in 2013 and has a cap hit this season of $8.275 million. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent following this season. Giroux is a natural centre, however as a right shot he has also played on the right wing at times as well.
Giroux made his NHL debut all the way back in 2007 and has since racked up 287 goals, 604 assists, and 891 points across 982 career games for the Flyers. He’s also produced 73 points in 85 playoff games.
This season, despite playing on a struggling Flyers team, Giroux has still put up a very solid 34 points in 40 games and leads the Flyers in scoring. His 34 points would rank third on the Flames behind only Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. His 15 goals would rank fourth behind Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Andrew Mangiapane.
What type of player is Giroux? Let’s take a look.
Giroux is an elite point producer
Since his rookie season in 2008–09, Giroux has done nothing but put up points at an elite rate. Over the past decade he’s flown under the radar as one of the NHL’s elite point producers. Let’s at his production over the last five seasons and how it compares to the rest of the league’s forwards.
|Stat||Giroux’s Total||NHL Rank Among Centres|
(2017–18 to 2021–22)
Giroux’s numbers speak for themself. Despite turning 30 back during the 2017–18 season, he has still continued to produce elite level production into his mid 30s and has shown no signs of slowing down this season either.
In particular he’s been one of the league’s very best playmakers for most of his career. The only centres who have produced more assists in the last five seasons are Sidney Crosby, Leon Draisaitl, Nathan Mackinnon, and Connor McDavid. You won’t find better company than that.
Despite having the reputation as a playmaker, his goal scoring numbers have been very solid throughout his career. In the last five seasons he’s been on pace for at least 20 goals all five seasons, including putting up a career best 34 goals back in 2017–18. Throughout his entire career he’s produced or been on pace for at least 20 goals in 11 of his 13 seasons.
Another impressive aspect of Giroux’s game is his ability on the power play. Over the last five seasons he’s been one of the NHL’s best power play weapons as he’s put up 101 points on the man-advantage, good for eighth among centres.
So far this season, he ranks 23rd among all centres for points and goals, and 26th for assists. Considering the team he plays for ranks 27th in the NHL for goals per game with just 2.45, those are some mighty impressive numbers.
Giroux is still a key contributor
All stats are 5v5 score and venue adjusted courtesy of naturalstattrick.com. Only players with at least 1000 minutes TOI were considered.
|Stat||Giroux||Rank Among Flyers Forwards |
(2019–20 to 2021–22)
Not only has Giroux been the Flyers’ top point producer over the past couple years, he’s also posted some of the best underlying numbers on the Flyers since the 2019–20 season. He ranks inside the top two for each metric behind only 2019–20 Selke winner Sean Couturier in CF%, xGF%, and xGF/60.
Despite being on the wrong side of 30 years old for each of those seasons, Giroux has proven he can still put up solid numbers despite now entering his mid 30s. Over that same time frame, the Flyers ranked 15th for CF% at 49.67%, 19th for xGF% at 48.96%, and 22nd for HDCF% at 47.60%. In other words, Giroux has continued to stay well above water in key metrics despite playing for a very average Flyers team.
In fact, over the last five seasons Giroux ranks fifth in the entire NHL among forwards for goals above replacement (GAR), only trailing behind some elite names.
This season Giroux has continued to put up great numbers, despite a sinking ship around him. His CF% of 52.92 ranks second among Flyers forwards, and he’s one of only three forwards above water at over 50%. His xGF% of 51.14 ranks first on the Flyers, and along with Couturier the two are the only Flyers forwards sitting above 50%.
Looking at his regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) chart courtesy of Evolving-Hockey.com, Giroux has still been very strong at even strength and on the power play this season despite playing for one of this season’s worst teams.
Another factor to note is just how solid Giroux has been on the defensive side of the puck. He’s been borderline elite at preventing chances against this season, something that would be a perfect fit in a Sutter system.
Lineup with Giroux
So if the Flames were to bring in Giroux, where would he play in the lineup? Well given his ability to excel at both centre and on the wing, it opens up some opportunities for the Flames. The Flames need help down the middle and on the wing so Giroux could slide in at either position.
That said, the team is absolutely devoid of talent on the right side, so slotting Giroux into the second line right wing role makes the most sense. It certainly helps that he can also take draws as needed as well. Here’s how I would lineup with Giroux.
Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Mangiapane – Monahan – Giroux
Dube – Backlund – Coleman
Like with any top-six addition, the Flames would finally be able to boast a middle-six that can provide some scoring punch. As mentioned above, Giroux has been one of the very best players in the entire NHL over his career at putting up points, so adding him into the top-six would take a huge weight off the top line’s shoulders.
Combining Giroux’s elite playmaking ability with Mangiapane’s goal scoring could be a devastating one-two combo for the Flames on the second line. Add in a recently improving Sean Monahan and this second line could rack up goals with Giroux on the wing. He would also be a great addition to the Flames’ power play, either on the top unit or more likely the second unit.
Can the Flames afford Giroux?
Well the first big blockade in any deal is the fact Giroux has a full no-movement clause in his contract. If he doesn’t want to come to Calgary, he can block any trade. As a 34-year-old, Giroux’s number one priority would be to join a cup contending team. The Flames are nearly a lock for the playoffs at this point, so they do fit that criteria to a degree. For this exercise let’s assume he would waive to join the Flames.
The next biggest issue surrounding a deal for Giroux stems from his massive cap hit this season. For a team like the Flames who are tight to the cap, fitting in Giroux’s $8.275 million cap hit could prove to be a major challenge.
Even at 50% retained Giroux carries a $4.1375 million cap hit, which would still require the Flames to do some additional maneuvering to fit him on their roster. Another contract would almost certainly have to go the other way.
In terms of contracts that the Flames could realistically move out to clear space, the first names that come to mind are Nikita Zadorov, Erik Gudbranson, and of course Monahan. Outside of those three there aren’t many options that can move the needle monetarily. Zadorov is a Sutter favourite, so the odds of him getting moved are slim, and it’s unlikely the Flyers will want to take on a contract as big as Monahan’s.
Given the Flames currently have around $2.3 million in cap space, moving out Gudbranson’s $1.9 million cap hit makes the most sense. He could easily be swapped out for Michael Stone or Juuso Valimaki, and clearing his cap hit would allow the Flames to fit Giroux on the roster at 50% retained.
What would it cost?
Another sticking point for a potential deal could be the acquisition cost. As a longtime captain and established top line point producer, Giroux won’t be cheap. With his amount of experience and success in the playoffs, he’ll be exactly the type of veteran forward many contenders will be looking for.
That said given Giroux’s NMC, he holds all the cards in any deal and decides where he goes. This could force the Flyers to move him for less than they’d like, although he still wouldn’t be cheap.
The Flyers will almost certainly be looking for a first-round pick or multiple, along with a young roster player or top prospect. For the Flames, that may be too steep of a price to pay considering what Elliotte Friedman had to say about Calgary’s management last week.
Perhaps things change come the deadline, or at least we can hope they do. The Flames are in no position to be holding onto picks and prospects at this stage of their contending window. Let’s say Treliving smartens up and is willing to make a big swing at the deadline, a Giroux trade could work.
Given the likely ask from the Flyers, the Flames would most likely have to part with their 2022 first-round pick along with a higher end prospect, or potentially a second-round pick and a roster player like Dillon Dube. It’s a move that will signal more of an all-in approach, and at this point it’s just the cost of business.
A solid option
There’s no doubt that Giroux would be a great fit on the Flames. He shoots right, can play down the middle or on the wing, and brings a plethora of playoff experience and success which is something this current roster sorely lacks.
There are some major obstacles to a deal though. Giroux’s full NMC and hefty cap hit could cause some major issues in getting any deal done. If the Flames are able to make it work and the cost isn’t astronomically high, Giroux would be a great add for a team craving experienced top-six forwards.
To get this trade done, general manager Brad Treliving will need to be willing to part with the pieces it would take to acquire a veteran player like Giroux, something he hasn’t done too often. Let’s see how far the Flames are willing to go.